Chicago Sun-Times

Ted Phillips: ``I never said we were talking about an extension [for Urlacher]"

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Wow. The mailbox is stuffed and I’ll start work soon to get as many questions answered as I can on Friday. No promises I can get through all of them as there is much draft news to hunt down.

Defensive tackle Tommie Harris was honored at Maryville Academy Tuesday afternoon at a luncheon in which he was given the Ed Block Courage Award. Harris showed up with coach Lovie Smith and a few teammates and owner Virginia McCaskey and team president Ted Phillips were also on hand.

Phillips got hit with some questions about linebacker Brian Urlacher, who is seeking more money. Urlacher had neck surgery this offseason and is coming off his first non-Pro Bowl season that was not shortened by injury. He has been absent from the first two days of the voluntary offseason program, which began Monday.

``You know what, he didn’t come to all the workouts last year either so we understand, he told Lovie,’’ Phillips said. ``Obviously, we’d like 100 percent participation and I think we’ve been spoiled over the years because we’ve gotten very close to that and sometimes it turns out that players don’t want to come for different reasons, we respect that. We’ll still try to get him here as soon as possible. Because he's a leader of our team, he's the face of our organization and we want him here.’’

Q: How do you characterize the talks with Brian?

Phillips: There have been discussions with his representatives, and I'd say they're cordial.

Q: How important are talking with Brian and Tommie?

Phillips: Well, let's face it. Tommie Harris, Brian Urlacher, they're important to us. That's why we're engaged in discussions with them. We want to get those two guys done, that's our philosophy. We believe in rewarding our own, and that's what we intend to do, hopefully in both of their cases.

Q: Is there a timetable?

Phillips: No, not really. Obviously, the sooner the better so I don't have to keep answering these questions for the next three months, but other than that.

Q: Why extend Urlacher when he has four years remaining on his contract?

Phillips: I never said we were talking about an extension. I never said that. I said we were talking to his representatives about how to look at his contract and try to educate them on the value of his deal. He signed a long deal, so ...

Q: The money was good then?

Phillips: It was. It still is.

Here is more of Phillips’ chat with media:

Q: Is the collective bargaining agreement a problem?

Phillips: I hope not. All I can say about it is the league is doing a lot of analysis, they're looking at the situation on the CBA and how much player costs are going to be in the future and the goal is to work out a new extension with the union. That's what everybody's hope and goal is.

Q: Do owners, including the Bears, need to opt out of the deal?

Phillips: I don't really have a feeling on it. The goal is not to do that. The goal is get the analysis done, make an informed decision. I think it's in both sides best interests to get a deal done, and I think the union feels that way and the teams feel that way and the league feels that way.

Q: But players don’t want to give a dime back?

Phillips: Well, again, it's in everyone's best interest to have a deal so that's really all I can say right now. IT's in the hands of the league right now and they're doing a good job in analyzing the situation on behalf of the member clubs.

Q: How big of an issue was that in Florida at the owners’ meetings?

Phillips: It was discussed obviously but I've been going to meetings for 20-something years and every year it's TV and player costs become a focus of the meeting so it was kind of business as usual.


Q: Is it disappointing Urlacher has not shown up at Halas Hall for workouts?

Smith: We have voluntary workouts that started up yesterday. Some of the guys can't participate for different reasons, that's part of it in the off-season. Brian's one of our guys, eventually he'll be here and it's not much of a concern to me really.

Q: Has the QB competition between Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton begun?

Smith: All of our competitions have started. Once you start up the new year, you start back from scratch. That's what we're doing at every position. It's exciting to see some of the players for the first time, just to get the group back together as a team to get started for the next year. 2007 was disappointing, now 2008 is here, and we're excited about it.

Q: Is anyone currently limited by injuries besides Cedric Benson?

Smith: We have a few guys that are a little banged up, but nothing serious. Even Cedric looked pretty good yesterday. We don't have anyone that's really a concern as far as injuries.

Q: Is Brian hurt at all by missing the voluntary stuff?

Smith: It's just a part of it. I don't get too worked up about guys like that. If a player has some type of contract dispute that's going on, I realize in the off-season you take care of those things. In the end when we need Brian there, he'll be there.

Q: Will you handle it the same way you treated the absences of Lance Briggs and Thomas Jones in the past?

Smith: Well I didn't discipline those guys. When it's voluntary work you look at it just like that. But once the new year starts, you start from scratch then. You can't really pencil anyone in until you see them for the first time. That's how I handled those situations then and that's how we do it each year.

Tommie Harris

Q: How important is it for you to get a deal done?

Harris: I would love to be a Bear. I'm looking forward to it and I'm patiently waiting.

Q: Are you optimistic?

Harris: I'm very optimistic. I'll leave the negotiations to the front office and my agent. I feel like they're going to do a great job, so right now I'm just staying focused on the offseason workouts and get my body in the best shape possible to go out and do it again.

Q: Do you have a deadline?

Harris: No, not really a deadline. I owe them one year so there's not really a deadline.

Q: How important o get it done before the season starts? If not would it be a distraction?

Harris: I don't know. Right now it's not a distraction but to have security over your career or to guarantee security and to be able to get paid for your accolades, I believe that's what all of us do, and that's what we all come to work for. It would be a great deal (if we get it done), but I owe the Bears a year, so it's going to be great if it happens, but if it don't, it's expected if it doesn't.

Q: What about the big deals for a guy like Tommy Kelly?

Harris: Not only Tommy Kelly, but when you look at guys like Shaun Rogers for his third contract and Kris Jenkins and guys like that, it just shows you that this position how important it is, and then the Giants with them winning the Super Bowl it just shows you how important the defensive tackle position or the d-line position as a whole is, and they do get paid well.

Q: If a deal is not finished, would you boycott voluntary offseason work?

Harris: I don't know. That discussion is between my agent and management. But I believe that the Bears handle themselves very professionally in getting deals done all the time so I'm looking forward to staying a Bear.

Q: Do you and Urlacher have to fight over money?

Harris: No. You heard Jerry [Angelo] say there's more than enough money to go around for all of us, so we'll leave it at that.

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Okay will the fans be peeved for Urlacher if he isn't given an extension without asking for one? And will the fans call foul if Urlacher pouts about not making more money? I think he was cool with everyone getting fair contracts because he was making extra money with his endorsements but they don't seem to be as widespreed as they were before. Maybe that baby-mama-drama tainted him in the rest of the world compared to his friendly profile in this town. He seems to only do Comcast commercial now and I think that they are local. Even during the season we saw way more commercials for Manning than Brian. I think he deserve more money and I would hate if the organization did their best player wrong by locking him into an outdated contract and treating him like the BULLS treated Pippin. Most fans thought Pippin should have honored his contract and shut up. But I know they would feel differently if it was a guy they all loved who was in that situation.

Urlacher is the bears!!! for the time being that is. urlacher and the defense is why we watch the bears. we cant count on the offense to give us to many good shows, so we expect it from the defense, and whos the best player on defense......URLACHER!!! the bears have made so much money off BU that they can afford to slide some his way. but knowing the cheapskate bears like we all do, they wont give him any extra!!!

I understand that the Bears organization is know for being a cheapskate, but I honestly did not take them as traitors to their own family. Give Urlacher that extension, it does not have to be the billions demanded by other players just enough to satisfy the big guy and to let him finish his career as a Bear, the team he has given more than he has taken, compared to numerous other players in the sport today. Then again that is my opinion, I could be wrong. Go Bears!

I would wait on giving urlacher any extentions. Philips said it best. look at urlachers contract 56 million over 9 seasons which he has 4 more years left on this contract. I think they will wait to see how urlacher performs this season before they pay him more money. urlacher's salary hit this year is cheap and the bears no it and won't change it either. let's face it the guy is locked in. no one told him to sign the contract. and besides who knows how much money the bears are going to dish out if this oline doesn't workout. seriously, why be in a rush to pay urlacher more money when he has 4 yrs left and you have guys like hester, and harris. urlacher need to go sit his a$$ down somewhere.

urlachers made a lot of money on the field and endorsement. he just wants a third contract because he sees all the other players around the league signing for a lot of money on there third contract. hey 4 more years there's no way i would invest that kind of money into a stiff neck back spasm player. ya kidding me (jim mora) bottom line he should have never signed that long contract and now it's coming back to haunt him. this team is changing and no bear fan may want to admit it but the urlacher era is over. the nfl fans like exciting offensive players like hester. mark my words hester will be the face of the bears. that's just the way it is. look at the pats it don't matter how good asanta samuels and that defense were brady and the offense always got the glory..

Urlacher era over? That's blasphemy, son!

This is one where you don't want to win the battle and lose the war. The Bears logically owe Brian nothing and already have him wrapped up for his career (4 yrs + franchise takes him to 36). That was a decision both made years ago because the money in the early years of his contract was so dramatic he chose that it was worth taking himself off the market long term as inflation in salaries occured.

I agree with Phillips on educating him. By the same token we need Brian a fired up leader playing his best football. What about going to him with performance criteria and telling him we'll pay him another $1-2 mil at the end of each year based on games played, sacks, pics, passes defended, and fumbles recovered/forced. That way we offer him something over and above what he's agreed to but we only pay it if he plays like the best 1 or 2 MLB's in football.

Jon: Urlacher is the bears!!! for the time being that is. urlacher and the defense is why we watch the bears. we cant count on the offense to give us to many good shows, so we expect it from the defense, and whos the best player on defense......URLACHER!!! the bears have made so much money off BU that they can afford to slide some his way. but knowing the cheapskate bears like we all do, they wont give him any extra!!!
Jon, I am sure Brian Urlacher is your favorite Bear. He's mine too. With that said, it would be business-retarded to give him more money. There are young guys you are looking to lock into long-term deals right now. Much like when Urlacher signed his 9-year deal, he was willing to take the money now he has to live with the contract. You re-negotiate contracts based upon players who have out-played their current contract. Urlacher is 32 years old, coming off a sub-par season, had offseason neck surgery, and may have a degenerative condition in his lower back. Oh yeah, he's also under contract for four more years! Does any of this sound like someone you need to ship big bucks to?

How much of his contract is guaranteed over the next 4 years? I'm starting to think that Urlacher realizes that he might not last another 4 years and is ensuring he gets paid before injuries might cause him to get cut.

Sure, he's a multi-millionaire, but if this neck/back thing is serious, he's planning for the future. Can't hate him for trying, especially after teammates like Briggs got decent deals after crying about contracts.

Shouldn't they all be set for the future? Why is it so easily understood that Urlacher needs to be paid and other guys get called cry-babies when they feel the same way? They all are putting their health in jeopardy to make fans happy. Why does only one particular guy get more level of understanding and be humanized when these other guys are just as human? Urlacher played to the best of his abilities and so do the other guys, why is he so different when they all are putting it on the line? Jordan needed his other players to win championships and Brian need other guys because he couldn't ever do what he has done on his own.

I have lived all over the US and everywhere I go I have to be able to watch my BEARS. I have been an Urlacher fan since he came to Chicago and feel that he deserves a better contract. He has put his health on the line to make the Chicago fans enjoy this game. We pay for the tickets, the "stuff" and I feel we should have a say. I say GO BEARS and GO URLACKER.

Tommmie Harris is coming off a serious leg injury that could slow him. Urlacher has had neck and back problems and is a general jerk.

I'd let Harris play this year and see how he does. I WOULD NOT renegotiate Urlacher's contract. Make him own up to his obligations like a man. Or, let him go to some other team and see whether they white glove him like the Bears do.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on April 8, 2008 9:54 PM.

You've got questions, I've got replies (and maybe some answers) was the previous entry in this blog.

Harris getting down to business, we'll see if it means deal is the next entry in this blog.

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